Is Your Gut Failing You? The Shocking Truth About Hiring

October 20, 2023

min read


Bhargav Brahmbhatt

Ever have a really strong gut feeling about something only to have it be the wrong thing? Yep, been there, done that—we all have. So while the sage advice is usually to “listen to your gut,” our guts do sometimes fail us.

A good example of that is in hiring. What do you do when you have two candidates with the same qualifications where one has better hard skills and one is better culturally aligned? How do you choose “the right candidate” when they’re both strong in their own ways? You go with your gut… and later on, inevitably ask yourself if you made the right choice. Sound familiar? That’s because you’re not alone. 

Research shows that on average, we make the wrong hiring calls about half the time. It’s not our fault, to be clear—it’s that sometimes, we don’t know exactly what will make someone succeed in a role, and we don’t have the full picture on our candidates. After all, how well can we really know someone after just a few short interviews?

So, why use our gut at all?

Hiring is a very human-driven process. It’s centered around getting to know if someone has the right qualifications for the job, the right soft skills, if they’re coachable, and whether they’ll be a good culture fit. That’s a lot to put on a small group of interviewers when they only get one (two, if they’re lucky) 30 minute conversation with a candidate.

The process has multiple potential failure points:

  • Interviewers don’t provide detailed feedback. While some folks are great and take the time to write a nice paragraph or schedule a debrief meeting, some also only give a thumbs up or thumbs down. The type of feedback is also inconsistent, with some digging into the technical aspects, while some others might focus on soft skills, with no guarantee that you’ll get a full picture.
  • Lackluster reference checks don’t dive deeply enough into a candidate. Unless you’re asking the right questions, a reference check can amount to “Yep they were great, I’d recommend them.” What made them great? Why do you recommend them?
  • Cultural alignment is hard to tell until the person’s actually there. The age old catch-22 of hiring: you never really know how someone will fit in with the rest of the team until they’re hired. If your company is very social, will the new hire participate and mesh well? If your employees are on the introverted side, will an extroverted new hire feel rejected? There’s simply no way to know, unfortunately.
  • Time—there simply isn’t enough time. Recruiters spend, on average, six whole seconds skimming through someone’s resume. Screening calls are short—and so are interviews.
  • Reliance on first impressions. When a candidate does make it to the interview stage, we tend to stick to our first impressions—which is never a good thing. We might miss out on fantastic people because a first impression missed the mark.
  • Some folks interview really well, but end up performing poorly at work.
  • Comparison data on candidates is non-existent. 
  • Unconscious bias. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have our unconscious biases that can impact our choice in candidates to move forward.

These failure points are how we get shocking numbers like these: 

We sound a little doomsdayish right now, but the good news is, there are tools out there to gut-check our guts.

Data: the solution to most of life’s problems

A recurring theme in the failure points above revolve around one thing: data. Reference checks, candidate comparisons, lackluster interview feedback—these all indicate a lack of critical data that would make hiring decisions much easier and more accurate. So, we go with our guts because we don’t have the data to back up our decisions. It’s about who we think will be the right skill fit, who we feel will be the best culture fit. But what if we could take the thinking and feeling out of it, and instead rely on thorough analysis and data to make the best choice? That’s just what we did. 

We recently introduced TRACY, our AI-powered hiring partner that is proven to make the right hiring choice four out of five times. We achieved this unprecedented level of success with rich data: decades of industrial-organizational psychology research and hundreds of thousands of post-hire outcomes. 

TRACY doesn’t eliminate your recruiting teams—she empowers them with the right data and pulls the best candidate profiles, looking at the whole person: hard skills, soft skills, personality, and cultural alignment. By removing unconscious biases from the equation, we’ve found that TRACY gives a voice to candidates who may have otherwise been overlooked. And maybe most importantly, TRACY gives time back to your hiring committees by lessening the administrative burden of sourcing candidates, scheduling fewer interviews, and conducting fewer reference checks. Recruiters become an indispensable part of the team as strategic hiring advisors instead of simply managing the hiring process.

Moreover, we’ve found that TRACY’s candidate reports provide great insights into what questions interviewers should ask and what areas they should hone in on. This allows for more efficient use of time—a 30-minute interview can be utilized to its fullest, providing deep insights into a candidate’s fit with a company. TRACY has improved hiring teams’ time-to-fill by 40% and lowered the cost of hiring by 20%---dramatic savings in a down economy with fewer available resources. 

Experience a more streamlined, efficient hiring process

Remember that scary number above? The one about how we, as humans, make the wrong call roughly half of the time? Let’s flip the script on that number, take our often-inaccurate gut feeling completely out of the equation, and hire new employees with the confidence that we made the right choice. It’s as easy as booking a demo today

Bhargav Brahmbhatt

Head of Marketing

Bhargav, our Head of Marketing, blends storytelling and customer empathy to drive business growth. Special flair for bringing new products to market.

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